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The Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the Limits of Values-Based Conservation
journal contributionposted on 2022-11-17, 02:50 authored by K Myers, James LeshJames Lesh
Marking the Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s fiftieth anniversary in 2022, this article adopts a historical perspective to examine the challenges encountered by Australian heritage regimes when attempting to recognize this site as a heritage place. First established in Canberra in 1972 on Ngunnawal land, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy reveals the material-discursive limits of Australia’s Burra Charter-derived values-based heritage regime in recognizing and respecting Indigenous rights, sovereignty, and protest. Recent attempts have been made to include the site on the Commonwealth Heritage List (2005), the National Heritage List (2008) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Heritage List (2015). That these nominations have not yet been successful suggests that heritage regimes of governance and management express settler-colonial ideology. Consequently, heritage becomes imbued with narratives of national identity and power and becomes a mechanism in maintaining settler-colonial dominance. This article proposes centralizing Indigenous agency as an alternative way towards formulating post-colonial heritage regimes and values-based conservation.